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Term Definition

Level descriptors are statements that provide a broad indication of learning appropriate to attainment at a particular level, describing the characteristics and context of learning expected at that level. They are designed to support the reviewing of specified learning outcomes and assessment criteria in order to develop particular modules and units and to assign credits at the appropriate level. The descriptors guide the learner, teachers and curriculum with respect to the complexity, relative demand and learner autonomy. These general descriptors can be applied to specific subject disciplines and ways of learning. Level descriptors are useful for curriculum design, assignment of credits, validation, guidelines for recognition of learning from experience and of non formal learning and for staff development.


Qualification descriptors are statements that set out the outcomes of principal higher education qualifications at given levels (usually of an awarded degree) and demonstrate the nature of change between levels. At some levels, there may be more than one type of qualification. The first part of a qualification descriptor (of particular interest to those designing, approving, and reviewing academic programmes) is a statement regarding outcomes, i.e., the achievement of a student that he or she should be able demonstrate for the award of the qualification. The second part (of particular interest to employers) is a statement of the wider abilities that the typical student could be expected to have developed. Upon periodical review of the existing qualification descriptors and in light of the development of other points of reference, such as benchmark statements, additional qualification descriptors at each level are elaborated. In view of the creation of the European Higher Education Area, the Joint Quality Initiative (JQI) Group proposed considering the development of descriptors for Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree (BaMa descriptors) that might be shared within Europe and be available for a variety of purposes depending on particular national, regional, or institutional contexts and requirements.

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